Former Cav is second in golf tourney

Published 10:09 pm Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lakeland graduate and soon-to-be Jackson State golfer Ben Hunter finished second last week in the Bill Dickey Invitational Junior Golf Championship in Atlanta, Ga.

The Bill Dickey Invitational brings in 44 of the top high-school-age, minority golfers in the nation for a two-day tournament at the Country Club of Georgia.

Hunter was mostly pleased with his play, but felt the tournament was within his grasp. Hunter played in the annual event as a freshman and a sophomore, finishing fourth and second respectively, so missing out on the title by one stroke was tough.

A round of 77 (five-over par) left Hunter tied for fourth and four shots behind the leader after the first round. Hunter shot 74 in the final round and said “it was in my hands down the stretch, but I had a couple three-putts and gave it away.”

“I really expected to win,” said Hunter. “I played pretty decent. I was a little disappointed in my putting, but I hit the ball pretty well.”

For underclassmen, Hunter said, the Invitational is a great chance for talented golfers to be noticed by college coaches. With plans, and a golf scholarship, already set for Hunter at Jackson State, the tournament was an opportunity to keep his game sharp and, “the fellowship at the tournament is always good. You get to meet new people and have fun.”

Hunter called the Country Club of Georgia “a great course” which measured around 6,800 yards. For another example, this past week, the VSGA State Amateur Championship at Cedar Point played on a course just over 7,100 yards.

“It was in great shape, but we were a little upset because the greens were recovering from aeration,” said Hunter. “I think it affected scores just a little bit.”

The Bill Dickey Scholarship Association has two primary missions; to increase participation in golf among young minority players and to provide financial assistance for students seeking higher education.

Hunter credits the Association for helping him be noticed by Jackson State.

“They really helped me get the scholarship at Jackson State, which is another reason I decided to go down there and play.”

Hunter has earned a partial scholarship from the Bill Dickey Scholarship Association in addition to what he’s earned at Jackson Street.

That leads into the fall and getting started as a Jackson State Tiger. Hunter said he’s on the course every day. In the 2008-09 season, Jackson Street had four events in the fall season.

“I’m looking forward to getting four rings, four SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference) championships. I hope to go to Jackson State and make a great impact,” said Hunter. Jackson State is the golf powerhouse of the SWAC, winning 21 conference titles under head coach Eddie Payton.

“I have a lot of motivation. I’m trying to work as hard as I can, so when I get there, I’ll have no excuses, and I’ll be on top of my game right away.”